A SUNNY but bitterly cold December day greeted runners as they prepared to burn off excess calories consumed over Christmas in race three of the ever popular Tempo Winter Series.
Shortly before the start of the race the temperature was sub-zero but by the time the race commenced it was a balmy one degree!
There were 27 members of Stratford Athletic Club lined up at the start and the race proved to be an extremely successful one for the club.
Stratford AC provided not only the winner, but four of the top eight finishers, four of the top ten lady finishers and five of the eight age category winners.
The race winner was Stratford’s Rich Shephard in a blistering time of 35:27 – the fastest on the course since 2012 and the second fastest ever despite backing off the pace at the end of the race.
Such was his dominance in this race that he beat the series leader Richard Simpkiss by an impressive two minutes.
Next home for Stratford was Neil Wicks, in fifth place, as he managed to dip under the 40-minute barrier in a time of 39:05.
He was followed by 18-year-old Sam Weaving, who had another great race, finishing in seventh place in a time of 40:27.
Sam had a fabulous duel with fellow club member Robin Kindersley, who finished just three seconds behind him in 40:30. Robin was eighth overall and won the M55 age category.
Robin has had a fantastic year, recently winning the club’s Most Improved Athlete of the Year award.
Just 49 seconds separated the next five club members to finish. The consistent Malcolm Bowyer (44:36 – 23rd) finished just ahead of Wayne Vickers (45:00 – 26th) who just edged out Emma Bexson (45:03 – 27th).
Emma was first in the F35 age category and third lady to finish.
Graham Taylor (45:20 – 29th) admitted to having done next to no running in the previous four weeks, mainly due to a change of jobs, so he fully expected not to be at his best.
Just five seconds behind Graham was Sam Nicholson (45:25 – 31st). Sam is another runner who was rounding off a fabulous year of competing.
Pete Evans (46:11 – 38th) obviously benefited from his early morning run on Christmas Day and he was followed by the second Stratford lady to finish, Sheila Lammas (47:15 – 43rd).
Sheila, who is just returning to competitive running after a long injury lay-off, also won the F45 age category.
Fern Hordern (47:34 – 27th) is in fabulous form as she trains hard for European and World Duathlon Championships in 2017.
Completing a great day for Team Shephard was Ceri (48:03 – 51st). Ceri, whose husband won the race, really is going from strength to strength.
Next was Hannah Osborne (48:47 – 58th). Hannah and Emma Vickers (49:11 – 64th) were another couple of Stratford runners who were neck and neck for most of the race before Hannah’s stronger finish resulted in her coming out on top.
Next to finish for the club was David Jones (49:58 – 70th). David finished first in the M65 category and was delighted to dip under 50 minutes, especially considering the amount of food he had consumed in the previous 48 hours!
Lynne Hinson (51:20 – 79th) almost caught David at the top of Larkstoke but was unable to close the gap on the descent.
Rebecca Pridham (53:59 – 100th) and Suzi Graham (54:20 – 104th) pushed each other on in this gruelling race. Maureen Birch (55:06 – 110th) was once again first in the F65 category which she has dominated recently.
Other Stratford runners to complete the race were: Eva Lowe – 1:00.30 – 144th; Paul Nash – 1:01.13 – 148th; Ollie Spicer – 1:01.52 – 152nd; Clive Shepherd – 1:04.45 – 168th; Phillipa Abrams – 1:05.08 – 170th; John Butler – 1:06.37 – 177th; Nicola Reynolds – 1:10.31 – 200th.
Some 219 runners completed the race. The first lady to finish was Charlotte Everard in 17th place in a time of 43:33.
Report compiled by David Jones.